Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Power of Grace

A brand new microwave sat on my counter for the past two weeks, wrapped in a box, while we waited to see if a better “Black Friday” deal would emerge before opening it.  Although the new microwave had the power to transform the way I did my morning coffee, I couldn’t use it, because I had never opened the box.

Yesterday, I took a scissors and cut off the tape from a box that enclosed a second microwave which had been delivered to our house—my husband had found a better bargain.  Needless to say, my coffee routine was performed in much less time this morning than it had been the past few weeks. While the microwave had been there all along, it wasn’t enough to know that the brand-new microwave would speed up the time I heated up my milk and creamer for the espresso on the stove.  To access the power, I had to actually open the box, plug in the microwave, and experience the rapid heating of the liquid.

In our Christian lives, a power source exists that radically altars the way we live—God’s grace. 

One gift at a time, grace is God’s strength provided for us. 

One day at a time, grace is the riches of Christ available to us.

Some have defined grace with the acronym “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense,” for without the shed blood of Christ on Calvary, believers would be powerless to live grace-filled lives in the reality of this evil world. As we acknowledge the propensity of our own sinful hearts and the depth of our own depravity, we are propelled to reach out for this amazing gift of God. Through Christ, grace gives us the answer for living, for responding, for “working out our own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12) in each of life’s circumstances and situations.

Grace illustrates Christ within us, the Hope of Glory.  His grace is the ticket out of every temptation (1 Cor. 10:13)—even if nothing changes externally!  Grace is the work of Christ in the heart through the power of God's Holy Spirit within.  It radically alters everything about us, even if nothing on the outside seems different. 

Grace is a powerful notion.  A life-changing concept.  A radical transformation of our hearts from the inside out.

It’s Spirit-empowered living because of the power of the Gospel.

How often did Paul begin his epistles, “Grace to you…” or “Grace…from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”?  It was wish, a prayer, a hope, a belief that the believers he cherished would experience the liberation of their spirits in a life of transformed, Spirit-empowered living.

Grace is the liberating reality that empowers believers to live life dominated by the Spirit of God, loving and forgiving others who fail.  Outlandishly.  Because that’s what Jesus did for us.  Believing the best about a situation when things look darkest.  Because that’s the character of the God of love.  And reaching into the lives of those in our surroundings to touch them with the same grace that we have received.  Because that is the example of Jesus.

I’m amazed at Paul’s words to the Philippians—“Ye all are partakers of my grace.”  And this is the heart of God for us—that we, who have freely received spiritual riches from His hand should also live, empowered by God’s strength, to affect all in our surroundings with His grace!

Galatians 5:13-6:10 powerfully illustrate the ramifications of the gifts of grace—the fruits of God’s Spirit.  Living in the freedom of grace kindles within us a desire to serve each other in love, for self-denying service is the normal outgrowth of such liberty.  Not license.  Not legalism.  But freedom to serve God and love others in ways we never knew were possible. 

Grace transforms our conversation, making our words gifts of grace that build up, ministering God’s strength to the hearers (Eph. 4:29).  The grace of God can’t be stopped.  It’s more powerful than any sin around us, any sin within us.

Often emerging from the pain of difficulty, God’s grace paints a picture of the beautified Christ reaching out to others.

Dear believer, may you allow God’s grace to touch your weakness today and transform your heart daily into the likeness of Christ. 

As was true in Paul’s life, God’s grace can extend from you to everyone you touch!